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September 17, 2011

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 70

The 70th Carnival of Nuclear Energy is up at the ANS Nuclear cafe

Prius plug in hybrid and seven seat Prius for 2012

The 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid, which offers seating for five, is expected to achieve a manufacturer-estimated 87 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) in combined driving and 49 MPG in hybrid mode. The recent introduction of the larger Prius v and now the Prius Plug-in Hybrid brings this eco-focused model range to four distinct vehicles, including the Prius c, which will debut in 2012.

The 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid will allow true EV operation and performance for up to 15 miles at speeds up to 62 mph, along with quick home charging using a standard AC outlet and 15-amp dedicated circuit. Operating in EV mode, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid provides the quick, smooth quiet driving of a pure electric vehicle. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid offers the same five-passenger seating and luggage space as the standard Prius model.

Toyota is launching several hybrid vehicles in 2012 - part of a strategy to put out at least ten new hybrids by 2015. By the early 2020s, the company most of the company's European models will feature a hybrid option.
Seven seat prius plus

September 16, 2011

Swedish Ny Teknik assists with self sustained e-cat test and shows pictures of the 1 megawatt cold fusion unit

Swedish Ny Teknik assisted recently in a test where the ‘E-cat’ invented by Andrea Rossi was run in self-sustained mode. Ny Teknik ("New Technology") is a weekly Swedish newspaper and website.

At the new test, the E-cat was first run for 90 minutes assisted with a thermal electric power input of 2.6 kilowatts. The electric power was then cut off and the E-cat continued to operate for 35 minutes without external energy input.

The test was subsequently terminated at our request, for practical reasons and time constraints. It would otherwise have continued, and according to Rossi the electrical resistance would then have been switched in at full power (27 kilowatts) for ten minutes after each time interval of 30 minutes with self-sustained operation.

During the test a new model of the E-cat was used, the one that has been implemented in the one-megawatt plant that according to Rossi will be launched in the U.S. in October.
Rossi's one megawatt heat plant in a 20 foot container (click on the images). Foto: Mats Lewan

The Rossi 1 megawatt unit is written up at Ny Teknik

Ny Teknik got a look at the plant last week in Bologna, where it had been assembled from parts supposedly manufactured in Rossis’s factory in Miami, Florida.

The plant consists of 52 ‘E-cats’ of a new model that Rossi says he developed this spring, partly through discussions with the Swedish physicists Sven Kullander and Hanno Essen, mainly regarding research done by Hidetsugu Ikegami, a professor emeritus at Osaka University in Japan.

Rossi newest ecat units reach 27 kilowatts of power output. He discarded the previously manufactured units. The 52 units were mounted in four rows along both sides of a 20-foot container.

Three crew members of the International space station returned

Three astronauts returning from the International Space Station landed safely Friday in their Russian Soyuz capsule, touching down at a landing site in Kazakhstan at about 10 a.m. local time after 164 days in space.

The return flight brought NASA astronaut Ron Garan and cosmonauts Andrei Borisenko and Alexander Samokutyayev of Russia safely home.

Now the race is on to see if a replacement crew can be sent to the orbiting space laboratory before the remaining three astronauts aboard the ISS return to Earth in November. A mission to send a new team to the space station has been scheduled for Nov. 14, just days ahead of the remaining ISS crew's scheduled return on Nov. 22.

American Michael Fossum, Russian Sergei Volkov, and Satoshi Furukawa of Japan remain aboard the space station


Nextbigfuture rankings on Technorati, RSS, Facebook and Twitter

According Technorati, the Nextbigfuture site is top ten in Science, top 12 in Health and top 20 in Green and has respectable rankings in Technology and Living.

We have
11600 RSS readers
2488 Facebook Likes and some pages have over 8500 Facebook Likes
over 1000 twitter followers

Thanks for the readership and support.



Sharp decline in legal and illegal immigration could be a big problem for the United States

Forbes - In 2008, the United States had over 1 million naturalizations; last year there were barely 600,000, a remarkable 40% drop. The rise of the economies of the rest of the world means those countries means their young generation do not go to the US and other places for a better life. It can also mean they attract those who left before for a brain drain from countries like the US.

The number of Mexicans annually leaving Mexico for the U.S. declined from more than 1 million in 2006 to 404,000 in 2010 — a 60% reduction. Since 2008 naturalizations have dropped by 65% from North America, 24% from Asia and 28% for Europe. In fact the only place from which naturalizations are on the rise appears to be Africa, with an 18% increase.

The US could join Europe as a rapidly aging society with low birthrates and little immigration to offset the demographics.

If current trends hold by 2050, Europe, currently 730 million people, will shrink by 75 million to 100 million and its workforce will be 25% smaller than in 2000.

CICC talk: Graphene could succeed CMOS and Sweden makes nanoribbons of graphene

1. EETimes - CMOS semiconductor technology could run out of gas at about 7 nm in 2024, and graphene is the leading candidate to replace it, according to a keynote address to be delivered at next week's Custom Integrated Circuits Conference (CICC).

Graphene faces plenty of challenges before it can become a successor to CMOS. "We have to make multiple billons of transistors in a sheet of graphene, but we've made less than a handful of transistors so far," said Meindl.

Hynix has produced flash memory with 15 nanometer features

EETimes - Hynix has produced a 15-nm NAND flash memory cell which it plans to unveil at this year's International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM).

Hynix is due to report on an 84-nm pitch memory process for the production of 1-Gbit phase-change memories and beyond. As memory process are usually denoted by the half-pitch that is effectively a 42-nm process.

World Nuclear Energy projected to double by 2030

The World Nuclear Association increased its world nuclear 2030 growth forecast by 2 per cent from its 2009 report. Today's generating capacity of 364 gigawatts could rise to as much as 790 gigawatts over the next two decades, and high uranium prices are encouraging exploration and production of the raw material for nuclear fuel.

A European halt on free emissions permits for coal and gas power plants after next year will help to drive the nuclear renaissance, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's nuclear energy agency.

China might still approach 60-70 GWe nuclear capacity in operation by 2020, despite the effects of the Fukushima accident.

Russia and China are talking about cooperating on floating nuclear plants.
Early plans for the plant had foreseen the Russian marine power reactors being fitted to a Chinese-built barge. The countries are also discussing cooperation for space nuclear power systems, and from mid-2012 Russia will supply radioisotope thermal generators to the Chinese space program.

China opened an unlicensed Angry Bird theme park

The Window of the World park recently welcomed visitors into the Angry Birds section of its Changsha-based attraction, offering them a chance to slingshot plush birds at green pig balloons ensconced in toy brick castles. Angry Birds is a very popular video game on smartphones and tablets.

However, the park set up its exhibit without consulting Angry Birds maker Rovio, which would allow the Finnish company to file an intellectual property infringement lawsuit.

China Daily shows that the park is using the Angry Bird name

World Nuclear generation Update for first half of 2011 and part of third quarter

The International Energy Agency has an update for energy generation up to June 2011.

The OECD (Western Europe, north america, japan, south korea) nuclear generation was down 2.1% for the first half of the year and was down 7.5% for June, 2011 versus June 2010.



A problem for my world nuclear generation bets is that Japan has turned off a lot more reactors than the ones that were damaged in the earthquake and tsunami in March.

The Japan tsunami was March 11, 2011. In that month they still generated almost 20 TWH versus 22 TWH if everything was great. In April, 2011 Japan still generated 16.8 TWH. Japan turned off more of their reactors even ones that were not damaged for safety checks and other stress testing. 5 TWH for 9 months would have been 45 TWH of reduced generation instead it will be about 100 TWH for 2011.

Japan's August numbers show that they have shutoff even more reactors since June and are 60% per month below 2010 (down 12-13 TWH).


September 15, 2011

Electrolyte-Gated Organic Thin-Film Transistors

Electrolyte-Gated Organic Thin-Film Transistors (79 pages)

There has been a remarkable progress in the development of organic electronic materials since the discovery of conducting polymers more than three decades ago. Many of these materials can be processed from solution, in the form as inks. This allows for using traditional high-volume printing techniques for manufacturing of organic electronic devices on various flexible surfaces at low cost. Many of the envisioned applications will use printed batteries, organic solar cells or electromagnetic coupling for powering. This requires that the included devices are power efficient and can operate at low voltages.

This thesis is focused on organic thin-film transistors that employ electrolytes
as gate insulators. The high capacitance of the electrolyte layers allows the
transistors to operate at very low voltages, at only 1 V. Polyanion-gated pchannel
transistors and polycation-gated n-channel transistors are demonstrated. The mobile ions in the respective polyelectrolyte are attracted towards the gate electrode during transistor operation, while the polymaner ions create a stable interface with the charged semiconductor channel. This suppresses electrochemical doping of the semiconductor bulk, which enables the transistors to fully operate in the field-effect mode. As a result, the transistors display relatively fast switching (less than 100 microseconds).

Printed solar cells on paper

The Institute for Print and Media Technology at Chemnitz University of Technology presents solar panels, which are printed with special inks with electrical properties on standard paper.

The technology known as 3PV (3PV stands for printed paper photovoltaics) uses conventional printing methods and standard substrates, like those used for magazines, posters or packaging. Special inks with electrical properties form the necessary structures on paper, which ensure that electricity is generated when being exposed to light. Since the employed conventional printing methods, i.e. gravure, flexo and offset printing, are very cost-efficient, the printed solar panels shall generate much cheaper electricity in comparison to conventional solar cells. Prof. Dr. Arved Hübler from the Institute for Print and Media Technology at Chemnitz University of Technology, who is working together with his research team on the 3PV technology for more than three years now, speaks of a paradigm shift in solar technology. His vision for the future is that common printing houses around the world could produce and market 3PV solar panels.

Journal Small - Printed Paper Photovoltaic Cells

Chip-level breakthroughs that may change computing over the next 5 years

Computer World - The next five years will be a very exciting time for electronics," says David Seiler, chief of the semiconductor electronics division at the Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

1. Germanium Laser Onchip Photonics

Jurgen Michel, a researcher at MIT's Microphotonics Center in Cambridge, Mass., wants to replace all onchip wires with flashing germanium (Ge) lasers that transmit data via infrared light. A Germanium laser can transmit bits and bytes 100 times faster than electricity moving through wires can, which means the critical connections between the chip's processing cores and its memory, for example, won't hold the rest of the device back. The chip will have a series tunnels and caverns undert the surface to transmit the pulses of light; tiny mirrors and sensors relay and interpret the data.

These circuits communicate using a germanium laser. Photo: Dominick Reuter/MIT.

By 2015, it's likely that there will be computer chips with up to 64 independent processing cores, each working simultaneously. "Connecting them with wires is a dead end," Michel says. "Using a germanium laser to connect them has huge potential and a big payoff."

MIT’s build prototype houses for $1,000 each

MIT has built the first prototypes from the Institute’s “1K House” project. It is an effort to see if low-cost homes for the poor can be constructed for $1,000, total.

The prototype, called Pinwheel House, was designed by Ying chee Chui MArch ’11, a graduate of MIT’s Department of Architecture, and has been constructed in Mianyang, in Sichuan Province, China.

The interior of the house designed by Ying chee Chui as part of MIT's 1K House project. Photo: Ying chee Chui

There are other groups working on basic housing for $300

A very large two-dimensional superlattice domain of monodisperse gold nanoparticles by self-assembly

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute developed a new method for creating a layer of gold nanoparticles that measures only billionths of a meter thick. These self-assembling gold coatings with features measuring less than 10 nanometers could hold important implications for nanoelectronics manufacturing. This new discovery could offer new solutions for scaling down the features of today's most advanced 32-nm computer chips to have features in the range of less than 20 nanometers, or even less than 10 nanometers.

They observed a superlattice measuring 20 microns, with a distance between lines of nanoparticles — or lattice constant — of 8.8 nanometers. He said the 20-micron superlattice domain is the largest ever documented, and this new technique could lead to even larger superlattices with even tinier features.

Journal of Materials Chemistry - A very large two-dimensional superlattice domain of monodisperse gold nanoparticles by self-assembly

Downclock smartphone metabolism for battery saving sleep mode

A new "subconscious mode" for smartphones and other WiFi-enabled mobile devices could extend battery life by as much as 54 percent for users on the busiest networks. Here's how E-MiLi works: It slows down the WiFi card's clock by up to 1/16 its normal frequency, but jolts it back to full speed when the phone notices information coming in. It's well known that you can slow a device's clock to save energy. The hard part, Shin said, was getting the phone to recognize an incoming message while it was in this slower mode.

"We came up with a clever idea," Shin said. "Usually, messages come with a header, and we thought the phone could be enabled to detect this, as you can recognize that someone is calling your name even if you're 90 percent asleep."

When used with power-saving mode, the researchers found that E-MiLi is capable of reducing energy consumption by around 44 percent for 92 percent of mobile devices in real-world wireless networks.

NASA heavy lift rocket proposed but faces budget funding challenges

NASA announced the development of the Space Launch System -- an advanced heavy-lift launch vehicle. The new heavy-lift launch vehicle will cost $18 billion, with its first test flight planned for 2017. It will be designed to carry the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle for transport of crew and cargo.

I think there is very little chance that this vehicle will be funded and developed to completion given the current budget climate. If it gets funded now it would have to not get delayed and have cost overruns and survive through the 2012 and 2016 elections.

The new rocket will include technology from the Space Shuttles and the Constellation program, which was building two rockets, Ares I and Ares V, and it will share a resemblance to the Saturn V, the first rocket to travel to the moon.

Basically it is a proposal to support the old technology base and legacy aerospace companies.

There was a previous analysis of an evolved space Launch System, that would take until 2032 for the full 130 ton advanced system to launch

SLS-5, in August 2024, would be the debut of the Cargo SLS, with a new fairing and a vehicle hardware change possible – as the winner of the booster competition would debut with this HLV.

SLS-6 – August 2025 – would return to the manned configuration, although no mission other than “exploration” – possibly as part of a Near Earth Object (NEO) mission – has been cited by the information.

SLS-7 – August 2026 – a Cargo SLS launch, would see one change to the vehicle, as the expendable SSME – known as the RS-25E – would be employed on the vehicle, taken over from the exhausted Shuttle SSME stock. Again, three engines would be required, as much as all of the SLS vehicles will be designed to have “space” for five engines.

SLS-11 – August, 2030 – would be the next change, as the five engine core is filled with the two extra RS-25Es, utilizing the full core power plant.

This configuration’s debut would be a cargo based mission, followed by a crewed mission one year later.

And then, in August of 2032, the evolved SLS is expected to debut (see image left), again based on the same 5xRS-25E driven core, but this time with a full Upper Stage, becoming the 130mt+ HLV. This debut (SLS-13) would be – as expected – based around a cargo mission.

There are other cost estimates that go as high as $62.5 billion to build and operate SLS through 2015. The $38 billion estimate to 2025 has been criticized as unrealistic. Just a simple projection of maintaining $3 billion per year to 2032 is $63 billion. Given the history of this kind of rocket development costs to 2032 are more likely to be $120-250 billion and there would be delays to 2035-2045.

New Infrared Coating for Windows could halve air conditioning and lighting energy usage

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have unveiled a semiconductor nanocrystal coating material capable of controlling heat from the sun while remaining transparent. Based on electrochromic materials, which use a jolt of electric charge to tint a clear window, this breakthrough technology is the first to selectively control the amount of near infrared radiation. This radiation, which leads to heating, passes through the film without affecting its visible transmittance. Such a dynamic system could add a critical energy-saving dimension to “smart window” coatings.


Berkeley Lab researchers have unveiled a semiconductor nanocrystal coating material capable of controlling heat from the sun while remaining transparent. This heat passes through the film without affecting its visible transmittance, which could add a critical energy-saving dimension to “smart window” coatings.

MIT advances 3-D printing with variable density concrete and progress to machines to build machines

Over the years, three MIT researchers and one of the companies that licensed the MIT patent, Z Corp., added new variations to 3d printing, including the ability to include colors in printed objects and to use a variety of materials. The ability to print metal objects, in particular, extended the technology from just a way of visualizing new designs to a means of manufacturing metal molds used for the injection molding of plastic parts.

Manufacturing companies took a strong interest in this work because it enabled “doing a complete design for a tool in days, rather than months,” he adds. “That means you can afford to go through more design iterations.”

September 14, 2011

MEMS energy harvester generates 100 times the power of devices of similar size

Researchers at MIT have designed a device the size of a U.S. quarter that harvests energy from low-frequency vibrations, such as those that might be felt along a pipeline or bridge. The tiny energy harvester — known technically as a microelectromechanical system, or MEMS — picks up a wider range of vibrations than current designs, and is able to generate 100 times the power of devices of similar size. The team published its results in the Aug. 23 online edition of Applied Physics Letters.

A new energy harvesting device converts low-frequency vibrations into electricity. The device, the size of a U.S. quarter, is shown mounted on a stand.
Photo: Arman Hajati


Applied Physics Letters - Ultra-wide bandwidth piezoelectric energy harvesting

Here, we present an ultra wide-bandwidth energy harvester by exploiting the nonlinear stiffness of a doubly clamped microelectromechanical systems (MEMSs) resonator. The stretching strain in a doubly clamped beam shows a nonlinear stiffness, which provides a passive feedback and results in amplitude-stiffened Duffing mode resonance. This design has been fabricated into a compact MEMS device, which is about the size of a US quarter coin. Based on the open circuit voltage measurement, it is expected to have more than one order of magnitude improvement in both bandwidth (more than 20% of the peak frequency) and power density (up to 2 W/cm3) in comparison to the devices previously reported

European monetary fund and the China monetary fund

Wharton finance professor Franklin Allen discusses the future of the IMF, Greece and the eurozone.

One of two things, in my view, is likely to happen. Either this situation will persist for a couple of years and then the public sector -- which will be the European Economic Union, in terms of the European Financial Stability Facility, or if it goes on past 2013, the European Stability Mechanism -- will own most of the debt. The private sector will effectively have been bought out.

The other route is that at some point the Greeks will simply say, "We've had enough of this and we're leaving." Overnight, they will go ahead and convert their debts to the extent they're local. [The local tranche is] about 80% to 90% of the sovereign debt, and presumably most of the private debt and the bank debt and so on. They'll convert from one euro to one new drachma. And then the next day, [the new currency] will float. Initially, probably, it will go down to about two drachma, two-and-a-half drachma to a euro. And what we'll see then is Greece will become more competitive quite quickly and hopefully start growing. It will not have access to capital markets for some time but experience seems to show that [the lack of access is] surprisingly short. And the fact that they'll be able to, essentially, lower their debt burden by a half or by two-thirds, on not only the sovereign debt, but also much of the private debt, I think will be a boost.

Today at Wharton - Is the End Near for the Eurozone? In an interview with Knowledge@Wharton, finance professors Franklin Allen and Bulent Gultekin offer their insight.


Vote on your favorite billion euro EU Flagship projects

The previous zoomerang poll had technical problems. Restarted with pollhost.


The EU will provide two projects out of 6 pilot projects with 1 billion euro from 2013-2022. Pick your favorites
Human Brain Project
Guardian Angel (sensors)
Robotic companions
IT Future of Medicine
Graphene
Global computing - FuturICT

  
Free polls from Pollhost.com


Scientists take first step towards creating ‘inorganic life’

Scientists at the University of Glasgow say they have taken their first tentative steps towards creating ‘life’ from inorganic chemicals potentially defining the new area of ‘inorganic biology’. Researchers have demonstrated a new way of making inorganic-chemical-cells or iCHELLS.

Prof Cronin said: “All life on earth is based on organic biology (i.e. carbon in the form of amino acids, nucleotides, and sugars etc) but the inorganic world is considered to be inanimate. “What we are trying do is create self-replicating, evolving inorganic cells that would essentially be alive. You could call it inorganic biology.

Scheme showing the formation of a membranous sack upon injection of polyoxometalate (POM) solution (blue) into a solution of DIP cations (green). Insets (left) show the POM and DIP structures, and (right) an image of a sack and an interpretation of how the two components are aggregating at the interface.

journal Angewandte Chemie - Modular Redox-Active Inorganic Chemical Cells: iCHELLs

George Church talks about Regeneration using Stem Cells

Technology Review - George Church is most excited about using regeneration as the key to treatments and keeping people health. Regeneration using induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells. He also wants to get personalized genomics. He wants to establish an IPS line for every single person who gets sequenced. First bone marrow patients. Then skin, then every stem cell line. Initially it will be wealthy people who will try this. Ironically, wealthy people are often willing to be the guinea pigs that are really in a sense the front line of new technologies. They're the foot soldiers. They're willing to put themselves at risk, and to spend money on it.

Church: Yes, induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells (see, "Growing Heart Cells Just for You"). This is where I'm putting almost all of my chips these days, because it combines many of my interests--genomics, sequencing, epigenetics, synthetic biology, stem cells. I don't think people have fully appreciated how quickly adult stem cells and sequencing and synthetic biology have progressed. They have progressed by orders of magnitude since we got IPS. Before that, they basically weren't working.

You can use them to reprogram genomes--not sequence them, but to reprogram them genetically and epigenetically. In other words you make the minimum changes it takes to get them where you want them to be genetically and epigenetically and then you program the cells into tissues.

FuturICT Knowledge Accelerator possible EU megaproject

The FuturICT Knowledge Accelerator and Crisis-Relief System has been funded for

What if global scale computing facilities were available that could analyse most of the data available in the world? What insights could scientists gain about the way society functions? What new laws of nature would be revealed? Could society discover a more sustainable way of living? Developing planetary scale computing facilities that could deliver answers to such questions is the long term goal of FuturICT. This initiative is seeking to develop Information and Communications Technologies that will provide scientists, governmental officials and citizens with a planetary scale computer which is called a Living Earth Platform. The Living Earth Platform will provide the means of analysing data and managing complex events. It could for example provide a basis for predicting natural disasters, or managing and responding to man-made disasters that cross national borders or even continents. The intention is to undertake interdisciplinary research, involving domains such as complexity, computer and the social sciences, to address the scientific challenges associated with the realisation of this goal and the needed advances in Information and Communication Technologies.
Prof. Steven Bishop
University College London, UK

IT Future of Medicine possible EU megaproject

The IT Future of Medicine has been funded for €1.5 million ($2.1 million) for 2011-2012, and 2012 could become a flagships, to be funded at about €1 billion each over a decade.

Data-rich, individualised medicine poses unprecedented challenges for IT, in hardware, storage and communication. ITFoM proposes a data-driven, individualised medicine of the future, based on the molecular/physiological/anatomical data from individual patients. ITFoM shall make general models of human pathways, tissues, diseases and ultimately of the human as a whole. Patient individualised versions of the models will then be used to identify personalised prevention/therapy schedules and side effects of drugs. This is the first time that huge IT implications of worldwide individualized patient care will be addressed in combination with genomics and medical requirements. The project outcomes will enable calculation of health, disease, therapy and its effects for individual patients. These may revolutionize our health care with enormous (i) benefits for health (prevention, diagnosis and therapy), (ii) reduction in cost by individualising combinations of a limited number of drugs, and (iii) new commercial opportunities in IT, analytics and health care. This entails nothing less than the transformation of biomedical science from empirical and stochastic to fact based and knowledge driven i.e. based on an ICT paradigm.

Prof. Hans Lehrach
Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, DE

Possible EU Graphene Megaproject

Graphene Science and technology for ICT and beyond received 1.5 million euros ($2.1 million) for 2011-2012, and late 2012 could be selected as a flagship project, to be funded at about €1 billion each over a decade.

Graphene, a new substance from the world of atomic and molecular scale manipulation of matter, could be the wonder material of the 21st century. Discovering just how important this material will be for Information and Communication Technologies is the long term focus of the Flagship Initiative, simply called, GRAPHENE. This aims to explore revolutionary potentials, in terms of both conventional as well as radically new fields of Information and Communication Technologies applications. Bringing together multiple disciplines and addressing research across a whole range of issues, from fundamental understandings of material properties to Graphene production, the Flagship will provide the platform for establishing European scientific and technological leadership in the application of Graphene to Information and Communication Technologies. The proposed research includes coverage of electronics, spintronics, photonics, plasmonics and mechanics, all based on Graphene.

Prof. Jari Kinaret
Chalmers University of Technology, SE

Nokia presented a vision of a graphene smartphone.



EU Guardian Angel Project

Guardian Angels for a Smarter Planet has gotten €1.5 million ($2.1 million) for 2011-2012, and late 2012 it could be one of two (out of six) projects that could be selected as flagships, to be funded at about €1 billion each over a decade.

Providing Information and Communication Technologies to assist people in all sorts of complex situations is the long term goal of the Flagship Initiative, Guardian Angels. These Guardian Angels will be like personal assistants and are envisioned as intelligent (thinking), autonomous systems (or even systems-of-systems) featuring sensing, computation, and communication, and delivering features and characteristics that go well beyond human capabilities. It is intended that these will provide assistance from infancy right through to old age. A key feature of these Guardian Angels will be their zero power requirements as they will scavenge for energy. Foreseen are individual health support tools, local monitoring of ambient conditions for dangers, and emotional applications. Research will address scientific challenges such as energy-efficient computing and communication; low-power sensing, bio-inspired energy scavenging, and zero-power human-machine interfaces.
Prof. Adrian Ionescu

Guardian angel project site

Researchers envision miniature sensors that power themselves with any available source of energy, such as light or movement.

Robot companions for citizens possible EU megaproject

Robot companions for citizens is one of the other possible FET (future and emerging technology) Flagship initiatives (could get 100 million euro per year from 2013-2022)

Each of six projects is to get €1.5 million ($2.1 million) for one year, and late next year two of the projects will be selected as flagships, to be funded at about €1 billion each over a decade.

Robot Companions for Citizens is an ecology of sentient machines that will help and assist humans in the broadest possible sense to support and sustain our welfare. RCC will have soft bodies based on the novel integration of solid articulated structures with flexible properties and display soft behavior based on new levels of perceptual, cognitive and emotive capabilities. RCC will be cognizant and aware of their physical and social world and respond accordingly. RCC will attain these properties because of their grounding in the most advanced sentient machines we know: animals.


Human Brain Project has at least a one in three chance at $1.4 billion over ten years starting in 2013

To prepare the launch of the FET (Future and Emerging Technology) Flagships (EU projects), 6 Pilot Actions are foreseen to be funded over a duration of 12 months starting from May 2011. In the second half of 2012 at least two out of the six Pilots are expected to be chosen to be launched as full FET Flagship Initiatives in 2013. FET Flagships are ambitious large-scale, science-driven, research initiatives that aim to achieve a visionary goal. The flagships are envisioned to run for at least 10 years, on a budget in the range of 100 Million Euros per year and per initiative.

Each of six projects is to get €1.5 million ($2.1 million) for one year, and late next year two of the projects will be selected as flagships, to be funded at about €1 billion each over a decade.

The robot companions project has about 250 collaborators in eight countries. But Dario expects the number of collaborators to grow to more than 1200. If selected as a flagship, he says, the development of sentient machines that perhaps “could be expected in 20 or 30 years could be accelerated and done in 10, providing a solution to a deep social problem.”

HBP-PS
The Human Brain Project - Preparatory Study

Understanding the way the human brain works could be key to enabling a whole range of brain related or inspired developments in Information and Communication Technologies, as well as having transformational implications for neuroscience and medicine. The long term goal of the Human Brain Project is to build the informatics, modelling, and supercomputing technologies that are needed to simulate and understand the human brain. Biologically detailed simulations of the brain will make it possible, for the first time, to identify the multi-level chain of interactions leading from genes to cognition and behaviour. Also to be researched, using supercomputer-based simulation technology, are new diagnostic tools and treatments for brain disease, new interfaces to the brain, new types of low-energy technologies with brain-like intelligence, and a new generation of brain-enabled robots.
Prof. Henry Markram
EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne), CH


September 13, 2011

Stratospheric Geoengineering test

In October, British researchers supported by the U.K. government will attempt to pump water a kilometer into the air using little more than a helium balloon and a rubber hose. The experiment, which will take place at a military airfield along England's east coast, is meant as a test of a proposed geoengineering technique for offsetting the warming effects of greenhouse gases. If the balloon and hose can handle the water's weight and pressure, similar pipes rising 20 kilometers could pump tons of reflective aerosols into the stratosphere.

The scheme, called SPICE (stratospheric particle injection for climate engineering), is one of several proposed geoengineering methods under study. In this case, the idea is that particles injected into the stratosphere would reflect a small percentage of the sun's energy back into space, thereby cooling the planet. The concept seeks to mimic the cooling effect of volcanoes that inject sulfide particles into the stratosphere in large quantity. A 2009 study by the U.K. meteorological office estimated that 10 million metric tons of sulfide particles injected annually into the stratosphere would cool the planet by approximately 2 °C within a few years.

The Stratoshield has been proposed as a simple and low cost way to prevent global warming

Iraq targets 3.5 to 4 million barrels per day by end of 2012 and the Libya restart of oil production

1. Ahmed Al Shamma deputy oil minister of Iraq said that “By the end of next year [2012] I think it could be in the region of 3.5 to 4 million barrels per day.” He reiterated that Iraq was aiming for oil output at 3 million barrels per day by the end of this year.

2. The IEA predicted a slower resumption of output in Libya than the producer group. The North African nation will likely restore output to 350,000 to 400,000 barrels a day by the end of this year, from zero last month, according to the IEA. OPEC forecast that Libya can reach 1 million barrels a day within six months and full capacity within 18 months.>


Fourth Conference on Artificial General Intelligence

The Fourth Conference on Artificial General Intelligence (AGI-11) was held on Google’s campus in Mountain View (Silicon Valley), California, in the first week of August 2011.

There are many papers and abstracts and presentations that are available.

HPlus Magazine has a summary

Real-world Limits to Algorithmic Intelligence (11 pages)

Recent theories of universal algorithmic intelligence, combined with the view that the world can be completely speci ed in mathematical terms, have led to claims about intelligence in any agent, including human beings. We discuss the validity of assumptions and claims made by theories of universally optimal intelligence in relation to their application in actual robots and intelligence tests. Our argument is based on an exposition of the requirements for knowledge of the world through observations. In particular, we will argue that the world can only be known through the application of rules to observations, and that beyond these rules no knowledge can be obtained about the origin of our observations. Furthermore, we expose a contradiction in the assumption that it is possible to fully formalize the world, as for example is done in digital physics, which can therefore not serve as the basis for any argument or proof about algorithmic intelligence that interacts with the world.

The Economics of the Singularity by J Storrs Hall

The Economics of the Singularity by J Storrs Hall (13 pages)

Hedgehog vs Foxes

Divide writers and thinkers into two categories: hedgehogs, who view the world through the lens of a single defining idea and foxes who draw on a wide variety of experiences and for whom the world cannot be boiled down to a single idea.

Tetlock: Expert Political Judgement
– Taleb: Black Swan
– Gardner: Future Babble
● Experts with an idee fixe (hedgehogs) were worse than random chance
● Regression and extrapolation typically outperformed experts

The Printing Press Presaged the Industrial Revolution

By ca. 1700, printed material had jumped to a 5% growth mode
● The general economy followed, using similar techniques

Limiting the Damage of a Greek Default

The articles about Greek Default and failure/breakup of the Eurozone are increasing. Nextbigfuture had one early today and the Wall Street Journal has a new one.

Wall Street Journal by Simon Nixon - The euro zone is running out of road. Greece's budget problems have spun out of control to the point where there is an imminent threat to the survival of the single currency. The euro zone's strategy until now—a mixture of obfuscation, prevarication and broken promises—has comprehensively failed. The market now regards a Greek default as inevitable and unless the euro zone starts to take decisive action to prepare for this outcome, what little confidence remains in the currency block will evaporate.

Until now, the euro zone's strategy towards Greece has been simple: to keep providing it with bailout funds to cover its deficits providing it meet strict conditions to tackle the shameful culture of tax avoidance and take steps to boost its competitiveness

IEA reports August world oil (all liquids) supply rose 1 million barrels per day to 89.1 million barrels

International Energy Agency Oil Market report for August, 2011

World oil supply rose by 1.0 mb/d in August, to 89.1 mb/d, with non-OPEC production up by 0.8 mb/d. Rising US and Latin American production offset heavy maintenance and field outages in the North Sea. Non-OPEC supply has been revised lower to 52.8 mb/d in 2011 on outages in the Middle East and China, rising to 53.8 mb/d in 2012.

Blood Vessels from your printer

Researchers have been working at growing tissue and organs in the laboratory for a long time. These days, tissue engineering enables us to build up artificial tissue, although science still hasn’t been successful with larger organs. Now, researchers at Fraunhofer are applying new techniques and materials to come up with artificial blood vessels in their BioRap project that will be able to supply artificial tissue and maybe even complex organs in future. They are exhibiting their findings at the Biotechnica Fair that will be taking place in Hannover, Germany on October 11-13.

There were more than 11,000 people on the waiting list for organ transplantation in Germany alone at the beginning of this year, although on the average hardly half as many transplantations are performed.


A Polymer vessel, which can become an artificial blood vessel, is flushed with cellmedium. Credit: Fraunhofer IGB

DARPA's photonics projects - At the edge of possibility

Laser Focus World - DARPA's photonics projects - At the edge of possibility

Nextbigfuture previously had a DARPA high energy laser update that listed all of the DARPA laser projects, the funding levels and goals.

The goal of HELLADS (High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System) is to shrink the mass of high-energy lasers by an order of magnitude, so a 150 kW laser can be integrated into tactical aircraft. That’s the power level sought for defense against rockets, artillery, mortars, and surface-to-air missiles at distances up to a couple of kilometers. The mass target is less than five kilograms per kilowatt of output, so the whole laser would weigh less than 750 kg. Although DARPA has not identified the design, other documents say it is a diode-pumped solid-state slab laser with flowing index-matched coolant.

In February 2011, DARPA reported that two different designs for unit cells having integrated power and thermal-management systems had exceeded 34 kW. At the end of June, the agency reported high beam power and quality in laboratory tests of a small, lightweight laser module
hased array of laser emitters mounted on the surface of an aircraft would generate and steer a combined beam. The two views show the surface and a cutaway view. (Courtesy of DARPA)

Milestone in High Volume Production of Quantum Dots

Quantum Materials Corporation and the Access2Flow Consortium of the Netherlands today announce that continuous production of Tetrapod Quantum Dots has been achieved using its proprietary micro reactor technology. Processes for producing quantum dots and tetrapod-shaped quantum dots of various sizes delivers on the promise of this technology to tailor-make material at commercial quantities for a variety of emerging applications such as Solterra Renewable Technologies' solar panels, displays, lighting, and medical diagnostics. Production is on track to increase by 70,000 times from 10 grams per week to 100 kg per day.

Currently, one of the lab scale reactors is capable of producing approximately 10 grams of quantum dots per week. Commercially relevant, the inherent design now allows for large-scale parallel modules to achieve target production rates of multiple kilograms per day, in a regulated, optimized system.

The goal is to achieve a production rate of 100kg per day with a 95% or greater yield.
Rice University Quantum Dot Synthesis

Dr. Michael S. Wong’s lab at William Marsh Rice University invented a simplified synthesis using greener fluids in a moderate temperature process producing same-sized QD particles, in which more than 95 percent are tetrapods; where previously even in the best recipe less than 50 percent of the prepared particles were all same size and tetrapods. These highly efficient tetrapod QD are available across the entire light wavelength from UV to IR spectra and very narrow bandwidth is common. Selectivity of arm width and length is very high allowing different characteristics to be emphasized. Capping with shells and dyes adds desired properties. A custom mixture of quantum dots tuned to optimal wavelengths is easy to create, and projects will have the advantage of unprecedented flexibility and quantities for determining the optimal quantum dot without the time, expense and poor quality of batch synthesis methods.

Furthermore, the Rice process uses much cheaper raw materials and fewer purification steps. A positively charged molecule called cetyltrimethylammonium bromide provides this dramatic improvement in tetrapod manufacture. This compound, found in some shampoos, also is 100 times cheaper than alkylphosphonic acids currently used and is far safer, further simplifying the manufacturing process.
Access2Flow QD Mass-Production

Access2Flow continuous flow micro-reactor processing will enable us to scale up the manufacture to our goal of 100kg/day production without loss of quality. Through QMC research and development in conjunction with A2F, we have made improvements on the process which are an integral part of our intellectual property contributed to our Joint Venture and other partnerships. We will be the first to mass produce the highest quality quantum dots at the lowest cost on the market using readily available, non-REE materials.

The Access2Flow continuous flow micro-reactor maintains the synthesis process precise and narrow wavelength uniformity. The quality and quantity of our tetrapod quantum dots have exceeded our requirements and far exceed what is available on the market today. Due to the simplicity of our scale-up to mass production, we believe we could provide last year’s display industry’s total consumption of QD in one month’s production.

Both full-scale quantum dot manufacturing and quantum dot based thin-film photovoltaic solar panel facilities can be developed today with available technologies


International Collaboration on Laser Fusion

There is a new collaboration which will involve the STFC-led High Power Laser Energy Research Facility (HiPER), AWE's Orion laser facility, and the National Ignition Facility (NIF), hosted by LLNL (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory). The ultimate aim is to demonstrate the technical and economic viability of laser fusion as a source of commercial energy production.

France has a megajoule laser fusion project

Laser fusion produces much higher temperature and pressures (than magnetic fusion), so fusion occurs faster, and the plasma must be confined for only billionths of a second.

End of the Road for the European Union

by Guest Author James Kan

Conceived by dreamers and promulgated by politicians, the European project “United States of Europe” is coming to an end.

With the highest concentration of nation states per square mile than any other continent, Europe had the most and deadliest military conflicts in human history. The European project’s premise was an integrated Europe would prevent further conflicts such as World War II which killed more than fifty million Europeans.

September 12, 2011

China incomes growing and more urbanization to support growth

Frank Holmes, Chief Investment Officer of U.S. Global Investors, makes a bullish case for China.

The key to China's economic growth isn't "how fast?" or "how much?" The most critical question is "what's driving it?"

Strong income growth has triggered a rise in domestic consumption. CLSA says inflation-adjusted wages in urban areas rose 7.8 percent in 2010 and have risen another 7.6 percent during the first half of 2011. As a result, urban retail sales and household expenditures increased 17.4 percent and 12 percent during the second quarter of 2011, respectively. In addition, rising migrant wages and higher farm-gate prices have led to a 13.7 percent increase in real rural incomes and 16.8 percent increase in rural retail sales during the first half of 2011, CLSA says.


Trans-Siberian Bering Strait Oil Pipeline could make sense

I was interviewed by the Voice of Russia America about the Russia plan to develop tunnels and bridges for connections across the Bering Strait

Technically doable and I think there could be economic justification for oil pipeline

The undersea pipeline as a first step looks very technically doable at first glance.

The technical challenges are formidable but doable. The Bering has two islands to each underground tunnel or bridge would be about 22 miles long.

The economic costs have only been crudely examined.

The Alaska oil pipeline is running at less than half capacity. The US does need a lot of oil. Making an oil pipeline and high speed fiber connection could make sense. Russia is the world's largest producer of oil.

A full Trans-Alaska Pipeline means a maximum capacity of just over 2.1 million barrels a day. Alaska oil supply (production) will decrease from an average of 600,000 barrels per day in 2010 to 520,000 barrels per day for 2012.

Greece Default Risk is at 98% and Italy turns to lobbying China for a Bailout

1. Greece’s chance of default in the next five years has soared to 98 percent as Prime Minister George Papandreou fails to reassure international investors that his country can survive the euro-region crisis. It now costs a record $5.8 million upfront and $100,000 annually to insure $10 million of Greek debt for five years using credit-default swaps, up from $5.5 million. The default probability for Greece is based on a standard pricing model that assumes investors would recover 40 percent of the bonds’ face value were Greece to fail to meet its obligations.

2. Italy’s centre-right government is turning to cash-rich China in the hope that Beijing will help rescue it from financial crisis by making “significant” purchases of Italian bonds and investments in strategic companies.

Beyond Kardashev level 2 - Managing Stars and Planck Energies

Kardashev Level 2+ civilizations could manage their stars

The list of nearest stars contains all known stars and brown dwarfs at a distance of up to five parsecs (16.308 light-years) from the Solar System. In addition to the Solar System, there are another 51 stellar systems currently known lying within this distance. These systems contain a total of 61 hydrogen-fusing stars and 9 brown dwarfs

Within 100 light-years (or 30.7 parsecs) of Sol, there are around 34 confirmed giant stars and 213 possible subgiant stars.

Giant stars can produce 100 to 1000 times the energy output of the Sun.

Another assumption made by Tom Murphy is that the Kardashev 2 civilization would not start heading out and managing a stable of solar systems before the time when they would start to max out on the energy demands of one star. They have dozens of stars within 17 light years and hundreds to thousands within 100 light years. Some already are producing at higher rates and other stars could be easily (for a type II civilization have production increased.)

What happens when a main sequence star runs out of hydrogen in its core? Stars such as our Sun move off the main sequence and up the red giant branch (RGB), fusing hydrogen into helium in hydrogen shell burning. A very short helium flash sees the start of helium core fusion and the star moves along the horizontal branch (HB). Once shell temperature is sufficient, helium shell burning starts and the star moves up into the asymptotic giant branch (AGB).


A type 2 civilization would only need to go a hundred light years to have many stars under their control and many dozens would be red giants or manipulatable into Red Giants. Within 100,000 light years are all of the roughly one trillion stars of the Milky Way.

New Nvidia Roadmap with Kalel+, Wayne and Grey chips

Germany-based Heise Online, (translated) NVIDIA will follow Kal-El with the release of Kal-El+ sometime in 2012, and then the Tegra system will break off into two business lines. Project Wayne will largely target the tablet and superphone market near the end of 2012, and Project Grey will focus on the more basic smartphone market.

Early 2013, Nvidia will launch the "Grey" chip. Nvidia acquired the company Icera in May 2011 for 367 million U.S. dollars. So that Nvidia wants to conquer the smartphone market and present while also its own operating system.

US Navy UAVs and Israeli UAVs

1. Navy Times - A F/A-18D Hornet made a "hands-free" landing on the carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower in July, a big step for unmanned flight.

Once unmanned aircraft have mastered midair refueling — a task the Navy hasn’t attempted yet — a new set of capabilities will sit in the hangar.

“Pound for pound, you’re going to get a longer range and more payload on an [unmanned aerial vehicle] compared to a command aircraft, and that’s going to be important in the years ahead,” said Nate Hughes, director of military analysis for Stratfor, a global intelligence company. “These days, the human in the cockpit is the limiting factor.”

The bulk of unmanned and autonomous flights will be for surveillance, reconnaissance and tanking purposes — missions that can last for several monotonous hours, said Norman Friedman, author of “Unmanned Combat Air Systems: A New Kind of Carrier Aviation.”

“It’s a cruise missile you can retrieve. If you think of it that way, you only fly it when you need it. You cut down on your gas, your numbers, your manning and your spares,” he said.
Handsfree carrier landing

Fifty New Exoplanets Discovered by HARPS

Astronomers using ESO’s world-leading exoplanet hunter HARPS have today announced a rich haul of more than 50 new exoplanets,including 16 super-Earths, one of which orbits at the edge of the habitable zone of its star. By studying the properties of all the HARPS planets found so far, the team has found that about 40% of stars similar to the Sun have at least one planet lighter than Saturn.

The HARPS spectrograph on the 3.6-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile is the world’s most successful planet finder. The HARPS team, led by Michel Mayor (University of Geneva, Switzerland), today announced the discovery of more than 50 new exoplanets orbiting nearby stars, including sixteen super-Earths. This is the largest number of such planets ever announced at one time. The new findings are being presented at a conference on Extreme Solar Systems where 350 exoplanet experts are meeting in Wyoming, USA.


HARPS is the ESO facility for the measurement of radial velocities with the highest accuracy currently available. It is fibre-fed by the Cassegrain focus of the 3.6m telescope in La Silla. The instrument is built to obtain very high long term radial velocity accuracy (on the order of 1 m/s). To achieve this goal, HARPS is designed as an echelle spectrograph fed by a pair of fibres and optimised for mechanical stability. It is contained in a vacuum vessel to avoid spectral drift due to temperature and air pressure variations. One of the two fibres collects the star light, while the second is used to either record simultaneously a Th-Ar reference spectrum or the background sky


Evening view of La Silla at the moment of "telescope start-up". The dome of the Swiss 1.2-m Leonhard Euler Telescope and the adjacent building are seen in the foreground, immediately to the right of the ramp leading to the ESO 3.6-m New Technology Telescope (NTT) in its octogonal enclosure. Credit: ESO/H.Zodet

Ferroelectrics could pave way for ultra-low power computing

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, have shown that it is possible to reduce the minimum voltage necessary to store charge in a capacitor, an achievement that could reduce the power draw and heat generation of today’s electronics.

Khan, working in the lab of Sayeef Salahuddin, UC Berkeley assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences, has been leading a project since 2008 to improve the efficiency of transistors.

The researchers took advantage of the exotic characteristics of ferroelectrics, a class of material that holds both positive and negative electrical charges. Ferroelectrics hold electrical charge even when you don’t apply a voltage to it. What’s more, the electrical polarization in ferroelectrics can be reversed with the application of an external electrical field.

Getting more bang for the buck

The engineers demonstrated for the first time that in a capacitor made with a ferroelectric material paired with a dielectric – an electrical insulator – the charge accumulated for a given voltage can, in effect, be amplified, a phenomenon called negative capacitance.

Shown is a rendition of an experimental stack made with a layer of lead zirconate titanate, a ferroelectric material. UC Berkeley researchers showed that this configuration could amplify the charge in the layer of strontium titanate, an electrical insulator, for a given voltage, a phenomenon known as negative capacitance. (Asif Khan image)

Applied Physics Letters - Experimental evidence of ferroelectric negative capacitance in nanoscale heterostructures

Arxiv - Experimental evidence of ferroelectric negative capacitance in nanoscale heterostructures (33 pages)

"Koomey's law" an alternative to Moore's Law where efficiency doubles every year and a half

MIT Technology Review - Researchers have, for the first time, shown that the energy efficiency of computers doubles roughly every 18 months. The power-consumption trend might have even greater relevance than Moore's law as battery-powered devices—phones, tablets, and sensors—proliferate.

Unique prospects of graphene-based THz modulators

Arxiv - Unique prospects of graphene-based THz modulators

The modulation depth of 2-D electron gas (2DEG) based THz modulators using AlGaAs/GaAs heterostructures with metal gates is inherently limited to less than 30%. The metal gate not only attenuates the THz signal (over 90%) but also severely degrades the modulation depth. The metal losses can be significantly reduced with an alternative material with tunable conductivity. Graphene presents a unique solution to this problem due to its symmetric band structure and extraordinarily high mobility of holes that is comparable to electron mobility in conventional semiconductors. The hole conductivity in graphene can be electrostatically tuned in the graphene-2DEG parallel capacitor configuration, thus more efficiently tuning the THz transmission. In this work, we show that it is possible to achieve a modulation depth of over 90% while simultaneously minimizing signal attenuation to less than 5% by tuning the Fermi level at the Dirac point in graphene.

(a) Operating principle of a 2DEG-based THz modulator. THz transmission through a
conducting media (2DEG) is tuned by a voltage applied between the top gate and the 2DEG. THz transmission is high with low 2DEG densities, and low with high 2DEG densities due to enhanced absorption and reflection. (b) Layer structures of traditional metal-gate/2DEG and proposed graphene/2DEG and graphene/graphene THz modulators. Shown in the box are the schematic energy band diagrams of a graphene/insulator/graphene modulator that promises near zero beam attenuation and unity modulation depth. When the Fermi level is at the Dirac point of both the top and bottom graphene layers, THz transmission approaches unity; when electron and hole sheets of charges are formed in the top and bottom graphene layers, THz transmission nears zero.


Hong Kong scientists make great strides in lunar mapping

Surveying experts of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) have successfully developed methodologies for precise mapping of the Moon, after intensive analysis of the data captured by the Chinese lunar orbiter ChangE-1 and other lunar exploration missions.

The primary objective was to develop the methodologies and techniques for mapping the Moon surface, which is much more challenging than mapping the Earth’s surface because of very few surveyed control points – which are essential for accurate map making.

There are only fourteen lunar laser ranging retro reflectors (LRRR) and Apollo lunar surface experiment package (ALSEP) transmitter sites with accurately known coordinates available only on the near side of the Moon, installed by the USA Apollo and former Soviet Union Luna missions in the 1960’s. Moreover, the gravitational field of the Moon is not as well known as that of Earth, meaning the accuracy of the computed lunar satellite’s position at any given time is lower than for Earth satellites; thus degrading the mapping accuracy and reliability. In addition, highly reflective lunar surface creates significant problems for the automatic processing of images to develop 3D models using the technique of photogramemtry, which is a widely used and highly reliable technique for the creation of maps and 3D models on Earth.


Carnival of Space 214

The Carnival of Space 214 is up at astroblogger

Centauri Dreams looks at asteroid deflection

Atra Materia looks at Dark energy

Explosion at French nuclear waste site

A worker was killed today by an explosion in a furnace used to prepare contaminated metal for disposal.

Details of the event come from the French nuclear safety regulator, the ASN. It said that the incident occurred at the Centraco facility where low-level radiaoctive wastes are prepared for packing and disposal. ASN's first assessment was that one worker was killed and four more injured, one of those seriously.

Preliminary information was that the furnace affected was used to to melt scrap metal structural components, pumps, valves and tools made of stainless steel or carbon steel that are lightly contaminated with short-lived and very-low-level radioactivity.

September 11, 2011

Kardashev level two again

Tom Murphy at the University of California of San Diego ran some numbers for a Kardashev level 2 civilization, but made several crazy assumptions.

He indicated that if energy usage continued to increase by 2.3% per year and all used on earth then the temperature would in 930 years be equal to the surface of the sun. Obviously if you have that much power you have to spread out beyond the earth. It would be 31 doublings of the energy that we had now. 2 billion times more.

A Dyson shell has 550 million times the surface area of the Earth. The surface area of the earth is 510,072,000 square kilometers. If some caveman made some projection that we could never use our current level of energy (18 Terawatts) because it was all used on the surface of the small island that he lived upon the temperature would be too high is the same argument that Tom Murphy made.

US Navy Wants To Replace F-35s With X-47B and other full size UAVs

Six months after the U.S. Navy’s first full size combat UAV made its first flight, the U.S. Navy leadership has ordered naval aviation leaders to examine the possibility of reducing orders for the new F-35B and F-35C, and use that money to buy the new X-47B, and similar robotic combat aircraft. That move was probably helped along by DARPA (the Department of Defense’s research organization), which earlier this year decided to explore development of robotic ground support aircraft.

DARPA will turn F-16s, F-18s and A-10s into unmanned ground support aircraft, to see if they can perform as well as the manned versions. In addition, DARPA will seek designs that improve on the performance of the current MQ-9 Reaper. DARPA wants its experimental aircraft operating within two years. The navy currently plans to buy 680 F-35B and F-35C aircraft, for (on average) $100 million each. A UCAS (Unmanned Combat Aerial System) costs less than half that, and provides most of the same capabilities.